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  • 5 Lessons Learned About Marketing With No Budget

    [12.08.20]
    - Drew McIntosh

  • lesson 5: Content is King

    So, you got some people liking tweets and commenting on a few forum threads of yours, maybe some reactions in a few discord servers. How do you drive them to your centralised place? How do you make sure they stay engaged? How do you get them to share stuff that showcases your game?

    Give them content. Not screenshots, not sweet descriptions of stuff, but actual valuable information that they could use in their life.

    For instance, let's say you're creating a fighting game where all the fighters are wooden puppets called, uhh...Wrangling Wood. Why are you making this game? Because you secretly love woodworking! Use that!

    Write a blog post or tutorial about what tool bits you've found to be the best, or how to handle a lathe like a pro (I don't know anything about woodworking if you can't tell), or create a video walk-through where you craft one of the puppets for real from a chunk of wood. This is shareable content. This sort of stuff will keep driving traffic to your site for a long time. People hate feeling like they are doing marketing for you, but they love sharing cool bits of information with their friends!

    Of course, it might feel like there's no angle like that for your game, but it's just a matter of thinking things through. There's going to be some passion or inspiration you are drawing from to create the game. That passion, as a topic, will extend beyond the domains of your game in some way. It's in that extended domain that you should be able to find something to teach or interest people that still relates to your game.

    A real example is my blog post: Creating Sweet Particle Effects in GMS2. I was having a lot of fun experimenting with particle effects while making Spaceslingers and I was finding new uses for particle skills I'd learnt in previous projects. So I did what I enjoy doing; I made something to help other people. A detailed tutorial on how to go from nothing to some pretty cool particle effects and also some tips on the process of creating new custom effects. Then I posted it on reddit, a few forums, twitter, and facebook, and bam...A few thousand views in the first few days, which led to the highest clickthrough rate from my site to the Steam page for Spaceslingers in the entire development period. And it's kept going...Nowhere near as strong as in that first week but still a consistent stream in the 100's of visits each week to that tutorial and a few percent of them clicking through to Spaceslingers. It was definitely the best use of my time marketing-wise.

    The Wrap Up

    That's about it. I wanted to write this all down while the experiences were still fresh in my head just after launch instead of waiting for the traditional few months and then doing a post-mortem. The titular pre-post-mortem.

    This post is, in many ways, the true goal of Spaceslingers. I wanted to learn the ropes. I wanted to find the pitfalls I would fall into and mark them out for myself. I wanted to see what I would find most difficult and what points I could do well. How Spaceslingers did commercially was a lot less important to me than how much I managed to learn along the journey. After all, expecting to hit a home run commercially as an unknown indie dev with a $0 budget releasing their first game would be more than a little insane (the last little lesson you can take away from this post).

    So plan carefully, expect to spend a lot of time trying to market your game, don't expect commercial success with your first (or second, or third) title and have fun! It's why we're indie devs after all. We want to make unique, interesting and sometimes spiky experiences. The kind of shit you won't get from big studios with accountants and tons of corporate inertia.

    Thanks for reading through this giant of a blog post! Oh, and if this has been helpful make sure to head over to the Spaceslingers page and plop down a purchase wink

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